SPAIN was put on terror alert as it assumed the presidency role for the EU for the next six months.
The country raised the probability of attack from one to two as the interior minister warned that Basque separatist group Eta might attempt a kidnapping to get publicity for its cause.
“There is a probable risk of an attack,” said Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba the day before Spain took over the presidency.
The priorities for the presidency include a smooth implementation of the new Lisbon treaty signed last month, and tackling the continent’s economic woes.
the Lisbon Treaty will make Europe “more efficient and dynamic” and contribute to “make Europeans more united”.
Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said the main challenge will be to provide Europe with an economy that is “more productive, innovative and more sustainable”.
Zapatero added that he was “convinced” that the Lisbon Treaty will make Europe “more efficient and dynamic” and contribute to “make Europeans more united”.
One of the aims of the EU’s new leadership structure is to give Europe a greater voice on the world stage in talks with major powers like China and the United States.
Under the Lisbon Treaty, Belgium’s Herman Van Rompuy, the UK’s Catherine Ashton and Jose Manuel Barroso, the European Commission president, are intended to be the EU’s public face.
But Spain will still chair important EU ministerial meetings on the economy, the environment and energy during the presidency.
It will also host several summits, including one with the US in May which President Barack Obama is expected to attend.
During the presidency the EU needs to agree on a replacement for the bloc’s long-term growth strategy known as the Lisbon Agenda which was supposed to make it the world’s most competitive economy by 2010.
A new 10-year growth strategy — dubbed the 2020 strategy — is likely to be adopted in March during a summit of EU leaders.
The unemployment rate in the entire EU rose to 9.3 percent in October, representing 22.5 million people, from 7.3 percent during the same time last year.
The jobless rate in individual member states varies from lows of 3.7 percent in the Netherlands and 4.7 percent in Austria to highs of 20.9 percent in Latvia and 19.3 percent in Spain.